Press Pass: Blair on Diamond and Scotland stars
Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair ahead of Saturday’s return to BKT URC action against Connacht at the Sportsground (25 March, kick-off 3.05pm).
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On Steve Diamond
“We’ve had a catch-up over the last week or so, then he came in on Monday. From my point of view at least, I think things are working really smoothly. He’s here to help, be another ear, give us observations and use his experience to help me and the other coaches, and our leadership group, to finish the season on a high.
“We have talked about us not being far off. We’ve looked at stats that he uses to measure where teams are at, and in those stats we are sitting pretty high – in play-off places or above on most of those stats.
“We’re not far off, we’re doing lots of good things. We have six losing bonus points which could have gone the other way. It’s not broken, we just need to find a ruthless edge – when we get on top of teams, put them away.
“We need to be prepared to work hard for each other from an attitudinal point of view. I believe we’ve had it in periods this season – the Saracens home and away games show we’ve got it in there – but it’s just that consistency and the application of that.”
On Scotland stars being available
“We’ve got a few guys back in. Some guys are off, some guys have had a few days off and will come back later in the week. Other guys are straight back in, just depending on injury, game-time and how their bodies are feeling.
“Jamie (Ritchie) is definitely away but the other guys we are just keeping tabs on in case we have any last-minute issues.”
On Grant Gilchrist
“Grant has completed ‘Tackle School’. They are pretty on top of it, you’ve got to do it right, spend the time on it, which is right when you’re taking a game off the ban as a result.
“It’s part of the process that we’ve ticked off. He did it a couple of times because they are stringent about what they want from it. It’s not so much a box-ticking exercise. They say, ‘this is what it looks like, this is what you have to do, you did this but you need to do this.’ That’s what we have done and he is available for this weekend.
“We facilitate the activity that shows we are working on the offence that was penalised. Replicate the situation to show how he would do it differently, different tackle techniques. It’s done on video then we submit it.”